Why Parks and Recreation Are Key Factors in the Support of Mental Health Initiatives

Mental health issues throughout the United States continue to be a growing problem. The park and recreation field can play a significant role in offering services and support for those who experience challenges. Research has indicated the benefits individuals derive from a walk in the woods, working out, riding a bike or practicing mindfulness, among the myriad services we offer. The session will provide an overview about the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and its efforts in providing resources and support, both nationally and locally. NAMI can provide a variety of support services for individuals of all ages. In addition, the session will share details of best practice park and recreation agencies that are working in partnerships or offering their own programs in support of improving the wellness and emotional health of individuals in their communities. Discuss how to get started to become a leader in your community.

Learning Objectives
Following this session, learners will be able to:

  1. Discuss mental health issues and statistics related to mental health challenges in the United States.
  2. List examples of worldwide efforts of cities, towns, and park and recreation agencies offering in support of providing resources for mental health challenges.


NRPA Education online learning content is accessible for 180 days from the date of your registration. The learning content is available for registration for one year from the date of origination.

Barbara Heller

Why Parks and Recreation Are Key Factors in the Support of Mental Health Initiatives


Barbara Heller has 40 years of industry experience, including 30 years working for park and recreation agencies and 12 years as a consultant in the field, focusing on strategy, organizational development, leadership development and best practices related to knowledge management and measuring organizational performance.

April Chambers

Vice President,

National Alliance for Mental Illness

Vice President and Treasurer for the Florida National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Presenter and Trainor: Presenter for Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for Law Enforcement and Corrections Officers.  Course focuses on sensitivity training and techniques for successfully communicating with individuals in psychosis.  Instructor for one of NAMI’s premier programs, Ending the Silence, designed exclusively for high school and college students encouraging them to share their thoughts and struggles with mental health issues.

Components visible upon registration.